Heat Pumps, And How They Work

12 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog

It's rather likely that heat pumps aren't the first thing you think about when it comes to a building's central-cooling system. The surprisingly intuitive name comes from how they work: they are designed to take heat and transfer it back and forth between two points. It's a very similar process to how an air conditioner works. However, they are also designed to do the exact opposite and reverse their environmental effects on-demand. This heat exchange technological principle lies at the very heart of all units in production. One particular perk is that they do not rely on cumbersome burners for heating incoming air. Instead, they opt for a much more efficient method involving deliberate circulation of hot and cold air. With a heat pump (such as those offered by D & R Service Inc), there is no need to install multiple heating and cooling systems. Many find that to be a massive advantage in itself.


This particular design is designed to draw heat from the ground. They are overall more efficient than their air-based counterparts that draw their heat from the air. The unfortunate downside of this method is its inherent installation and operational cost. It's the same basic principle behind geothermal energy systems, except the heat isn't processed further to generate electricity: it's simply used as-is. The water used to conduct the heat can be continuously reused in the system, or it can be piped back into the lake or underground spring it came from with no negative impact to the local environment.


Unlike the previously-mentioned ground-based types, heat pumps that are air-based draw air through coils of refrigerant. Any heat from the air is drawn into the coils, which is then transferred inside the building the system is installed in. The process is essentially the same principle that makes your household freezer operate but reversed to keep the heat in instead of out. Chances are, if you see a heat-pump system in a building, it will be air-based due to its lack of installation limitations and economical price. This includes anything from small-scale applications--such as typical household refrigerators--to larger applications, such as walk-in freezers and walk-in coolers. If you're willing to be flexible in your operational costs, some models can be made more potent with the installation of a gas-burner fueled by natural gas. However, most mainstream applications probably won't require such a boost in performance.


Hybrid systems that combine the two can also be found. However, most hybrids that combine the two technologies to various degrees tend to be rare. As such, they rarely see use outside of niche industrial applications—although on rare occasions, remote households and homesteads can also be found with hybrid systems.